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Taiwan Takes Stride Towards Marriage Equality: Same-sex Couples Granted Adoption Rights

Taiwan’s legislature passed a bill on Tuesday that granted same-sex couples the right to jointly adopt a child neither of them are related to.

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Anmol Singla
Taiwan Pride Parade

Image: AP

The legislature of Taiwan, on Tuesday, successfully approved a bill that enables same-sex couples to jointly adopt a child who is unrelated to either of them, marking a significant milestone in their journey towards complete marriage equality.

In 2019, Taiwan made history by becoming the first jurisdiction in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage. However, at that time, it did not extend fully equal rights of adoption to same-sex couples, stopping short of granting them that privilege.

Prior to the recent legislative changes, adoption rights in Taiwan were limited to heterosexual couples and single individuals who sought to adopt children unrelated to them biologically. This created a situation where, if a same-sex couple wished to adopt, only one of them could legally register as the child's parent, even if both individuals shared the responsibilities and duties of raising the child.

“I am very excited that we granted joint adoption rights to same-sex couples today,” CNN quoted Fan Yun, a lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party who was among those that initiated the legal change.

“Legally, we have finally returned same-sex couples to their children,” she added. “Parental love is the same, and only through joint adoption can we protect the rights and interests of each other by law.”

The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights, a prominent advocate for LGBT rights in Taiwan, hailed the recent decision as a significant stride towards attaining complete marriage equality on the island.

“Today’s success shows that the consensus in Taiwan is to protect the human rights of LGBTI peoples and promote gender equality,” the alliance said in a statement.

Historic decision years in the making

Before the recent legal change on Tuesday, certain same-sex couples in Taiwan had dedicated years to challenging the discriminatory practices in the country's courts.

Last January, a groundbreaking ruling was made when a male couple from Kaohsiung City managed to successfully challenge the adoption ban. The court recognized that permitting joint adoption was in the best interest of their child, setting a significant precedent in favor of equality.

While the court ruling in January was a notable victory for the male couple from Kaohsiung City, it's important to note that other similar cases were dismissed by the court. The law that imposed restrictions on their civil liberties remained in effect until its amendment on Tuesday.

The recent legal change in Taiwan has occurred against the backdrop of increasing awareness within the country about the continued efforts required to achieve complete marriage equality. This is despite the fact that same-sex marriage was legalised four years ago, indicating that there are still additional steps needed to ensure equal rights for all.

In January this year, the Taiwanese government implemented a new directive that enabled Taiwanese individuals to marry a same-sex foreign spouse, even if the partner's home jurisdiction does not recognize same-sex marriage. This directive aimed to ensure that couples facing such legal obstacles can still have their marriages recognised in Taiwan.

It should be noted that the directive implemented in January does not extend to same-sex partners from mainland China.

According to the alliance, there are still some challenges and obstacles that remain for LGBT couples in Taiwan. These include achieving equality for cross-strait marriages, which involves recognizing same-sex marriages between individuals from Taiwan and mainland China. Additionally, there is a need to address access to assisted reproductive technologies, ensuring that LGBT couples have equal access to such reproductive options.

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